Surrey co-responding scheme trial set to begin

Thursday, 24 September, 2015


A potentially life-saving scheme which will see Surrey firefighters attend certain medical emergencies goes live later this month.

The co responding scheme, which starts on Monday, 28 September, will see firefighters from across the county involved.

Similar to the ambulance trust’s community first responder scheme, the firefighters will respond to life-threatening emergencies such as cardiac arrests, chest pains and breathing difficulties.

In the same way community first responders are always backed up, qualified ambulance crews will be assigned at the same time as the firefighters who will respond in fire engines or in fire service cars.  

Initially the pilot, which runs until April 2016, will operate in Leatherhead, Reigate, Farnham, Horley, Chobham, Redhill, Cranleigh and Caterham before being rolled-out to others areas over the coming weeks.

The firefighters who have agreed to be involved in the pilot have all undertaken the immediate emergency care responder training.  

Developed by SECAmb, the training will enable firefighters to provide treatment to patients in the moments before ambulance crews arrive.

The new scheme is among a number of similar pilots which are taking place elsewhere in the country.

SECAmb Paramedic and Immediate Emergency Care Responder (IECR) project lead, Dave Wells said: “This is all about saving more lives.  When someone is in cardiac arrest, with every minute that passes their chances of survival diminish significantly.

“This great scheme will give us up to an extra 100 defibrillators out there in communities across Surrey, which has to be a good thing.

“All the firefighters volunteered to be part of the scheme, act as an additional response to our crews.

“We’ll also always assign an ambulance response to the call at the same time but if the firefighters reach the scene of an emergency before ambulance crews, they will be able to begin vital life-saving treatment.”

Firefighters will also, if necessary, be able to use the defibrillator, which they will carry as part of their clinical equipment, to attempt to restart a patient’s heart.

The scheme is part of the ongoing work of the Emergency Services Collaboration across SECAmb’s region.

Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council's Cabinet Associate for Community Safety Services, said: “Firefighters are dedicated to saving lives in whichever way they can and already carry equipment such as defibrillators to give the best possible care at the scene of fire and rescue emergencies. By going a step further and providing urgent care at a medical emergency when they can be on the scene before an ambulance they are aiming to save even more lives.

“Fire and rescue emergencies will always come first but when there are crews and vehicles available firefighters who are part of this pilot scheme will be able to start giving medical help to patients in life-threatening situations while an ambulance is on its way. It's another example of emergency services in Surrey working closely together to better serve their communities.”

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